WHAT YEAR DID YOU GO TO MARDI GRAS AND WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO GO?
"2013. I had a couple of friends that were habitual Mardi Gras goers, every year for like 20 years. I had never been and it wasn't really on my bucket list, but I figured if I'm gonna go to Mardi Gras and experience it with somebody, I wanna go with somebody that's been there (going) for 20 years. I figured it's a great place for the atmosphere, food, whatever. So it came to pass that the opportunity was given to me for me to go along, per say, and go in on the house they were renting, and it was only about a block and a half from Bourbon St. by Lafitte's bar."
"WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF LAFITTE'S BAR? (Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop)
"It's where Satchmo used to play, still has a dirt floor and doesn't have electricity. They want to keep it like it used to be, so they keep the dirt floor and they have extension cords running from other people's houses to the back of this bar which powers the daiquiri machines and lights and music and stuff like that. It's one of those historical things you go see and it happened to be at the end of our block. It was funny, you could see, it's very clear, they tell you there was no electricity, you'd look out the door and out the alleyway there's these big orange extension cords coming from people's houses into the bar. On the way to Bourbon St. every day, we'd have to stop in and get a Voodoo daiquiri."
ARE YOU GLAD THAT YOU WENT?
"Oh my gosh, yes. I went for 8 days. It was the end of Mardi Gras. We went on Thursday and that was really the peak. It actually goes on for like a month, month and a half. There's parades every day. At least 5 or 6 parades. Just an great time. But you have to be able to walk....a lot. Miles a day."
IT'S BEEN OFFERED TO ME TO GO ON MORE THAN ONE OCCASION, BUT HONESTLY, IM A LITTLE NERVOUS I WOULDN'T HAVE THE STAMINA TO HANDLE IT. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THAT?
"You wind up being so drunk you don't think about that."
THAT DOESN'T MAKE ME MORE INCLINED. (Laughter)
"I'm not the workout king or whatever, but I did go to the gym and walk for three miles day. I worked up to it. The first day there, and I spent extra money on comfortable shoes and orthotics and all."
SO YOU WENT INTO TRAINING?!
"You just go and it doesn't matter."
WAS IT FROWNED UPON FOR PEOPLE TO TAKE NAPS AND SUCH IN BETWEEN DOWN THERE?
"The people I went down with, it's like, if ya hang, ya hang. If ya don't hang, ya don't hang. It's all good. We carried each other back to the house, pretty much. The first day, I got blisters, which is really bad. You're walking like 3,4,5 miles or more a day. You really have to have good, comfortable shoes. And that didn't help. I never knew you could walk blisters into callouses the way we did. We found a really good thing, these Asian massage places. They gave you foot massages, just phenomenal. That helped us a lot. They would solicit you for everything else, but you're only interested in the foot massages, ya know."
"There's probably 2. Just being at Mardi Gras and being in the middle of it. If that kind of thing is on your bucket list, ya have to go during that last weekend before Fat Tuesday. We literally went to at least three parades a day.
The second thing, which is the best, for me: the food was just phenomenal. It was the best food vacation I ever had. We went places that were four star and places that were the local places where we got our bloody Mary's with the oysters in them (which is really pretty good too). Every morning we'd get up and either got bloody Mary's or went to Café DuMonde and had beignets and coffee."
DID YOU SEE ANY REAL CRAZY STUFF WHILE YOU WERE DOWN THERE?
"Of course! We were there for a week! Not crazy, crazy. I would think it would be normal, but growing up in the 70's and being in college in the 70's, it felt kind of normal. There's nudity, which is not a big deal. There's only really two rules:
You don't fall down and not get up. And you don't urinate in public."
WELL, AT LEAST THERE'S SOME GUIDELINES!
"Believe it or not, the only time we saw the police get involved with anybody, even in the peak of Mardi Gras; where we lived, there was a little corner store that served food and groceries. There were these two girls that were just TRASHED! There was a policeman sitting in the car across the street, paying them no mind at all. Until the one sat down on the stoop, still didn't bother the policeman at all. The one girl kinda couldn't get up and the critical mistake they made was the one girl came to the police car to ask for help. At that second, he got out of the car, handcuffed them, got back in the car and drove off.
There the only two rules apparently, we found.
On Bourbon St., every time you buy a drink, you have to get your receipt and keep them in your pockets cause that's the only time you can use a bathroom is if you're a paid patron of that place. You're like "I bought a gallon daiquiri an hour ago. Obviously I have to go." They will ask for your receipt. Every other store for a mile or two of Bourbon St. had daiquiri machines. They're like the Slurpee machines at 7-11 or Wawa. A Slurpee machine are these little one foot circles. The daiquiri machines are three foot circles. They have 18 different flavors. You walk in and there's a wall full of daiquiri machines. And this is every third store. Every store is either a bar, a daiquiri machine place or a place to buy souvenirs and beads."
DID YOU VENTURE OFF OF BOURBON STREET MUCH?
"Before Fat Tuesday, we ventured to eat. We'd do the tourist trappy things. We'd do one a days like the Imperial Palace or something else that was a landmark place that all the tourists went to. Then we would eat at another place that was not. Ranging from a four star restaurant to a local place that served soup (étouffée)."
DID YOU FIND THE PEOPLE TO BE DIFFERENT THERE THAN HERE IN PHILLY?
"Eh, yeah. They were nice. There were a couple friends that had been going down there for so long that we kind of felt like we were in the inner circle. We were tourists of course. We wore mummer suits and dressed up. So whenever we went out we were always dressed on something."
DO YOU THINK YOU'LL GO AGAIN?
"Kinda. But, there's big expectations to live up to to compare what we did before. I might go to visit, knowing that other people are gonna be down there, for a weekend or a day or two. But I don't know that I would go for the whole time again."
LASTLY, ARE THERE ANY STORIES THAT STAND OUT IN YOUR HEAD THAT YOU'D BE WILLING TO SHARE?
"(Laughter) It's almost like Las Vegas. What happens down there sometimes, really should stay there and shouldn't come back. It was just lot of drunkenness, rival rousing and it was just a really great time."